Start counting back

Roman and medieval countdowns: Highlighted: V, IIII, III, PRID[IE] (the day before) KL (Kalends) refer to the last days in December (5th, 4th, 3th and the day before the kalends of January, 1st of January) from a 9th century manuscript (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 459)

In a few hours, many of us will be counting backwards to welcome the new year.

The New Year Countdown. They may cancel the fireworks but not the countdown.

2020 has been the year of counting. Counting Covid infections, casualties, the public debt, the cost to national economies.

Let us count our blessings instead. And keep counting back.

The Romans used to count back the days all the time. The Roman calendar was a perpetual countdown. Instead of 10, 11 and 12 December, for example, they would mark these days as the fourth, third and second day before the Ides of December, respectively. The Ides of each month (13th or 15th day of the month) were one of the three fixed points in the Roman calendar, alongside the Kalends (1st of the month) and the Nones (the 5th or the 8th day of the month). Every other day was counted backwards relative to one of these reference points. 31 December was the day before the kalends of January, the 1st of January.

There is no final countdown. The clock keeps ticking.

See you on the other side.

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